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Diversity and Inclusion in the Hybrid Workplace

Don’t let out of sight mean out of mind when it comes to working from home.

Women and people of color show a preference for remote work in order to escape workplace microaggressions. What are microaggressions? Microaggressions are actions/comments that indirectly and possibly inadvertently convey prejudice toward a member of a marginalized group. 

Research shows that “about 42% of supervisors say they sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks, and nearly ¾ say they would prefer all their subordinates to be in the office.” Those working from home have a promotion rate half that of in-office workers according to a Stanford economist study, despite having higher productivity compared to their in-office peers. This leads to proximity bias and those working in person might also receive more promotions. White men hold 62% of C-suite positions, white women 20%, men of color 13%, and women of color 4%, according to McKinsey % Co. with LeanIn.org in a 2021 survey. If more women and people of color are working from home and more white men are working in the office, then men are being disproportionately promoted, which impacts leadership diversity.

How can your organization curb proximity bias?

  • Train managers to better integrate remote workers.
  • Upgrade company technology.
  • Require senior leadership to work remotely occasionally. 

Also, contemplate creating a “head of hybrid work effectiveness” position. This person will oversee remote worker integration, such as if someone attends a meeting virtually, everyone does for inclusivity. The “head of hybrid work effectiveness” will intentionally be sure all contribute to work-product. Finally, this position will check-in regularly with all employees. Consider a standardized set of office/work-from-home days for all employees, including senior leadership.

Organizations should also think of remote work as an opportunity to accomplish DEI initiatives. Potential employees are no longer limited by geography, extending your reach to generate a more diverse team and expanding the diversity of mentors through virtual meetings. Additionally, employees can be evaluated on work-product without social exchanges clouding judgment. 

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